Dear Sun Spots: Could you please name a few places in the Oxford Hills area where one can go and pick fiddleheads? Thank you. – J.S., South Paris.

Answer:
Sun Spots checked with several colleagues in our Norway bureau who note fiddlehead aficionados may not be willing to share their locations with you, as was the case with the wild mushroom sources recently. But, hopefully some readers out there will be willing to share some of their locations with you.

In the meantime, Sun Spots also spoke with Fare Share Market general manager Suzanne Dunham who says fiddleheads are typically found along streams, riverbanks and woodland, wet areas. She says the Royal River in Yarmouth is one popular place. For more information you may want to check out the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension Web site for fiddlehead facts and recipes at http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/htmpubs/4198.htm.

Fare Share Market chef Lance Deschenes kindly provided Sun Spots with the following recipe which he says he “just made up.” In Sun Spots experience those make for the best dishes and she hopes you and your family enjoy Deschenes creation. The market located at 443 Main St., Norway, ME 04268 and is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.:

FIDDLEHEAD SOUP – Fiddlehead ferns are available to us for a very short season – only about two weeks in the late spring. Deschenes likes to prepare them in the simplest ways possible, with their flavor and texture right up front, so that when you eat them, you really know what you’re eating!

Ingredients: 2 quarts vegetable stock, 1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced stem to top, 2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly across, 1 bunch scallions cut in rings, green only, 1½ to 2 pounds fiddleheads, trimmed and washed thoroughly, oil for sautéing. Method: Heat oil in soup pot and sauté onion over a moderate flame until it is soft and translucent. Add carrot and stir for three or four minutes. Add stock, bring to a simmer and cook until carrots are soft. Add fiddleheads and scallion and simmer for four or five more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve. The fiddleheads should have just a little crunch to them.

BASIC VEGETABLE STOCK – Ingredients: 1 large onion, 2 carrots, 2 celery ribs with leaves, 1 bunch scallions, 6 cloves garlic, mashed, 8 branches parsley, 2 bay leaves 2 tablespoons salt oil for sautéing. Other things you might add: lettuce leaves, chard, potato parings, mushrooms, etc. Method: Clean vegetables thoroughly and chop into 1-inch chunks. Heat oil in stock pot and sauté vegetables over moderately high heat for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. The more color the vegetables get, the more flavor your stock will have. Add salt and cover with 2 ½ quarts water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a colander, pressing as much liquid out of the vegetables as you can. Allow stock to sit so that any small particles can settle and strain again.

And you and your family might also like to try this previously featured recipe for Bread and Butter Fiddlehead Pickles. Ingredients: 2 pounds fiddleheads, 3 large onions (thinly sliced) ½ cup salt, cold water, 3 trays ice cubes, 5 cups sugar, 5 cups cider vinegar, 1½ teaspoons turmeric, 1½ teaspoons celery seeds, 1½ teaspoons mustard seeds. Method: In an 8-quart enameled stainless steel or glass container, stir fiddleheads, onions, salt and enough cold water to cover fiddleheads until salt dissolves; stir in ice. Cover; let stand in cool place three hours. Drain fiddleheads and rinse with cold running water; drain thoroughly. Measure sugar, vinegar, turmeric, celery seeds and mustard sees into 8-quart Dutch oven or heavy saucepan. Over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring often. Meanwhile, prepare jars and caps. Add fiddleheads and onions to Dutch oven; heat to boiling. Spoon hot fiddleheads into hot jars to 1/4 inch from top. Immediately ladle syrup over fiddleheads. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Makes 6 pints.

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